Fernandez, Gray, Strasburg, Maeda among pitchers making debut
By Andrew Simon
The 2016 season is now underway for all 30 Major League teams, but the fun is just beginning.
Two days after the first six clubs debuted, the final six played their first games on Tuesday, meaning there are no more "0-0" records showing up in the standings.
There still are a lot of firsts to look forward to this season, however, and that certainly is the case on Wednesday, when the 13-game slate begins with the Blue Jays and Rays at 1:10 p.m. ET. Here are some contests to keep an eye out for today:
Uncharted waters for Shark: SF@MIL, 1:40 p.m. ET
There are several pitchers taking the mound on Wednesday for new teams after changing uniforms this offseason, a group that includes Toronto's J.A. Happ (at Tampa Bay), Seattle's Wade Miley (at Texas, 2:05 p.m.), Baltimore's Yovani Gallardo (vs. Minnesota, 7:05 p.m.) and St. Louis' Mike Leake (vs. Pittsburgh, 7:05 p.m.).
But the most intriguing of those might be Jeff Samardzija, who is set for his first start with the Giants after signing a five-year, $90 million contract. The right-hander slipped from a 2.99 ERA for the Cubs and A's in 2014 to a 4.96 mark with the White Sox last year, but the Giants clearly were confident they could get better results going forward. Although it was an uneven spring for Samardzija, he looked to be rounding into form when he allowed one hit over five scoreless frames against the A's on March 31.
Hooray, it's Jose Day: DET@MIA, 4:55 p.m. ET
It was a shame for baseball fans (and the Marlins, of course) when 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Jose Fernandez missed more than a year to undergo Tommy John surgery. Fortunately for everyone except opposing hitters, the righty looked more or less like himself after returning last July, posting a 2.92 ERA and 11 strikeouts per nine innings over 11 starts. Now he will try to kick off his second full season on a high note as Miami hosts the Tigers and veteran righty Anibal Sanchez, who is facing his former club for only the second time since it traded him to Detroit in July 2012.
Stras a boss? WAS@ATL, 7:10 p.m. ET
It was a disappointing 2015 for the Nationals in general, and for Stephen Strasburg specifically. The righty posted a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts and went on the disabled list twice, but after returning for the second time in early August, he looked about as dominant as ever. The results over his final 10 outings: 66 1/3 innings, 42 hits, eight walks, 92 strikeouts and a 1.90 ERA. Now in his final year before he is due to reach free agency, Strasburg gets the ball as the Nats try to move to 2-0 under new skipper Dusty Baker, following Monday's Opening Day win in Atlanta.
New in blue: LAD@SD, 9:10 p.m. ET
The Dodgers have enjoyed more than their share of exciting rookies over the years, and this season's club not only has top prospect Corey Seager starting at shortstop, but also Japanese righty Kenta Maeda in the rotation. Maeda, who turns 28 next week, makes his first Major League start against the Padres and Andrew Cashner, who enters his contract year trying to bounce back from a 4.34 ERA in 2015. As for Maeda, a strong rookie campaign would help him get the most out of an unusually incentive-laden eight-year contract he signed in January.
Here comes the Sonny: CWS@OAK, 10:05 p.m. ET
A's ace Sonny Gray was supposed to take the ball for Oakland on Opening Day, but a bout of food poisoning ruined those plans, landing him in the hospital. Now recovered, Gray goes in the third game of the series against the White Sox instead, looking to build on an All-Star 2015 season in which he posted a 2.73 ERA. Gray faces 23-year-old Chicago lefty Carlos Rodon, the third overall pick in the 2014 Draft, who produced a 1.81 ERA and allowed a .198 average over his final eight outings as a rookie.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.